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Scripture reading – Genesis 46-47
Pharaoh’s Provision and Meeting with Jacob (Genesis 47:1-10)
With his family established in Goshen, a place known for its lush grazing land, Joseph chose five of his brothers “and presented them unto Pharaoh” (47:2). As he expected, Pharaoh questioned the men concerning their occupation. They answered, saying, “Thy servants are shepherds, both we and also our fathers” (47:3).
Joseph’s brothers made it clear that their business in Egypt was temporal, for they were there “to sojourn in the land…for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan” (47:4a). Showing themselves men of humility, they asked, “let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen” (47:4b).
When his interview with Joseph’s brothers concluded, Pharaoh granted Joseph and his father a private audience (an indication of Pharaoh’s respect for Joseph). Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How old art thou?” (47:8). Jacob answered the king’s inquiry, giving not only his age, but his testimony: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (47:9).
One hundred thirty years was a long life; however, not nearly as long as his grandfather Abraham, who lived to be 175, or his father Isaac, who lived to 180 years old (47:9). When his meeting concluded, Jacob parted with a blessing before he “went out from before Pharaoh” (47:10). The form of that blessing is not known; however, I believe it was a verbal one, and perhaps a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for Pharaoh’s kindness.
Joseph’s Loving Care for His Family (Genesis 47:11-12)
Exercising the privilege of his office, Joseph ensured his family would enjoy “the best of the land…as Pharaoh had commanded” (47:11). While all of Egypt suffered famine, he “nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families” (47:12).
Famine Enslaved the Egyptians to Pharaoh (Genesis 47:13-26)
The famine continued for seven years and inevitably caused the people to become impoverished. With no crops to harvest, the people spent all their money to purchase grain (47:13-15). When the famine continued, the Egyptians were forced to part with their livestock and sold their cattle to Pharaoh (47:16-17). When the second year of famine was finished, the people came to Joseph, offered their lands, and finally became Pharaoh’s servants (47:18-20, 23-26b).
There were two exceptions to the ravages of famine. First, the priests, a politically powerful presence in Egypt, were given grain by Pharaoh and exempted from selling their lands (47:22, 26b). The second was Joseph’s family, his father, brothers, and their households, “had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly” (47:27).
Israel’s Longing for Home (Genesis 47:28-31)
God blessed Jacob, and he enjoyed the company of his son Joseph another seventeen years after moving to Egypt (47:28). When he was 147 years old, and knowing his death was imminent, Jacob summoned Joseph to his bedside. The private conversation that passed between them was recorded. Though he was Joseph’s senior in age, Israel’s (Jacob’s) manner deferred to his son’s office and made his parting request.
Genesis 47:29b–31 – “If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he [Joseph] said, I will do as thou hast said. 31And he [Jacob] said, Swear unto me. And he [Joseph] sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.
Joseph honored his father’s request and vowed to return Jacob’s body to Canaan, where he would be buried with his father, Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham. (47:31).
Closing thoughts – Genesis 48 records Jacob’s parting words, caution, and counsel to his sons and their families. Meditating on this passage reminds me that wise men and women plan for death and the inevitability of God’s judgment.
James 4:14 – 14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
How about you, are you ready? “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Questions to consider: After he counseled his brothers (Genesis 46:31-34), Joseph was discreet as he approached Pharaoh and interceded for his family (Genesis 47:1-2).
1) What lessons can we take from Joseph’s approach to and relationship with Pharaoh, his authority?
2) What decision did Pharaoh make after meeting Joseph’s father and his brothers? (Genesis 47:5-6)
3) What was Israel’s (Jacob’s) last request before he died? (Genesis 47:29-31)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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